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Jasmijn de Boo

Chief Executive Officer

"There’s cake in the kitchen. Help yourselves!"

Jasmijn has been working in the animal protection movement since 2000, having begun her studies in 1995 (including 9 months in Thailand gaining experience). In that time, she has pretty much seen it all – but she hasn’t lost a shred of enthusiasm. With her CEO hat on, Jasmijn generates frequent flashes of strategy brilliance and loves nothing more than seeing her colleagues thrive. Directing the Society ever closer towards our shared vision, Jasmijn makes sure that the who, what, and when all happen, while keeping the Society on the right path. A regular contributor to The Huffington Post UK, you can explore her blog archive here. Being interviewed by some big-shot journalist or other and managing all of those fun-but-scary CEO duties are all just another day at the office for Jasmijn.  

Constantly active, Jasmijn enjoys travelling and hiking whenever she gets the chance. To say that she enjoys training for half marathons would be a lie, but Jasmijn likes the challenge of running a race. Very rarely these days, Jasmijn also enjoys practising her long lost synchronised swimming skills.

WHY VEGAN?   "Being vegan is the only logical choice if one is compassionate about other animals. After I became vegan over 11 years ago, I discovered it wasn’t so difficult after all." - Jasmijn

Peter Smith

Head of Communications

"Chilled out? Me!"

A huge fan of looking at things in perspective, being ‘chilled out’ is a trait we appreciate beyond measure in Pete. Even in the run-up to big deadlines, we’ve yet to see him break into a sweat. And we like that it’s kind of infectious: one glance his way, and suddenly the room feels calmer. 

His role at The Vegan Society is to plan and manage our communications, working together with the rest of the team to ensure that our campaigns and our message get out to as many people as possible. Having spent most of his working life to date in the world of television, Pete can easily make you laugh or cry with his wonderful storytelling abilities. 

When he’s not hurtling down a hill on a mountain bike or dreaming of a life at sea, Pete can be found attempting a sunny walk in the Peak District, wishing he’d checked the weather forecast.

WHY VEGAN?   "My wife, Diane, has been my inspiration and guide when it comes to helping animals; we both became vegetarian in 1981, and decided to start campaigning for animal rights after watching The Animals Film in the opening week of Channel Four in November the following year. Not long after, subsequent to reading The Vegan magazine while staying in mid-Wales, we decided to try a vegan diet. Diane and I, along with our three kids, are proud to have been vegan ever since.” - Pete

George Gill

Head of Business Development

"It's win-win!"

One whiff of a vegan product and George is on it faster than you can say “trademark”. George has been with us since 2009, setting the direction for all things business-related. Most of the time, he’s busy supporting our lovely clients on the launch of their vegan-friendly products. The rest of the time, he’s making sure they’re all registered with the international Vegan Trademark (we don’t like to remind George of this too often, but it's largely thanks to his vision and drive that the Business Development team at The Vegan Society now sits head and shoulders above all other global vegan trademark schemes). With his 25 years of experience and a strong sense of business opportunities, George is an inspiration to vegan companies and manufacturers across the world. Work with him for long, and you’ll be sure to hear his favourite two words in quick succession: “win” and “win”.

Can’t cook and won’t cook – but George can be relied upon in a takeaway pizza emergency. He’s a fan of short sentences. And travels a lot.

WHY VEGAN?   “I had always been vegetarian – since birth. I drifted off the straight and narrow at university, but that only lasted 12 months. I went into veganism with an open mind, after reading lots of books – some spiritual. That was when I really understood that there’s a lot more to it than just diet. It just seemed ‘right’. Now, I enjoy eating carbs more than anything!” - George

Amanda Baker

Senior Advocacy and Policy Officer

"I have a banana and I'm not afraid to use it!"

Though Amanda is extremely busy making sure our public services cater better for vegans, she always makes time to offer a helping hand to colleagues. “Amanda will know” is one of the most frequently used phrases at Vegan Society HQ, along with “Hello”, “Goodbye” and “Is that chocolate?” Amanda is affectionately recognised as a real-life search engine for all the obscure vegan questions you would otherwise have to Google. We don’t know what we’d do without her.

A peacemaker through and through, Amanda is the last person you’d expect to list 'fighting' as one of her obsessions. However unlikely, Amanda has been known to throw some pretty good moves with her friends at weekly aikido classes. At the weekends, a garden fork is her weapon of choice as she fights climate change while practising permaculture down in her beloved allotment.

WHY VEGAN?   "Everything I believe in has increasingly aligned with vegan as a solution; but it was the environment and climate change that gave me the reason to fully commit to vegan living” - Amanda

Samantha Calvert

Researcher in Residence

“Leather cleaner? Why would anyone want to clean it? Surely, give it a decent burial.”

Samantha’s brilliant plan to turn the world vegan is what powers her through the working day – and often well into the night. 2014 has seen her busily working away on a history project linked with our 70th anniversary celebrations. 

Skilled at pinpointing exactly what’s up with the world and giving us all something to laugh about, Samantha’s raw writing style would not be out of place in satire news sites such as The Daily Mash or The Onion. Samantha is very caring and thoughtful, and enjoys nothing more than a good discussion on anything from the deep and meaningful to the trivial and absurd (such as whether or not Staffordshire oatcakes should be eaten with jam). 

WHY VEGAN?   “Vegetarian for ten years, mainly because I didn’t want animals to feel pain and die just so that I could eat meat, I finally decided to cut down on dairy products over the period of a year. Through membership of The Vegetarian Society, I realised that eggs and milk also resulted in slaughter and death. That was 18 years ago, and going vegan is still the only New Year's resolution that I have ever kept!” - Samantha

Alex Douglas

Volunteer Development & Grants Co-ordinator

"Kale is where it's at, people"

Every time you see Alex, she’s likely to sport a different Vegan Society tote bag – her favourite colour being pink, of course. Aside from her duties as a tote bag model, Alex supports our growing network of volunteers throughout the UK and overseas. Having been volunteering with The Vegan Society herself for several years, Alex really knows her stuff, and is especially passionate about inspiring the next generation to get involved. The best thing about working with Alex though is how excited she gets whenever we order vegan pizza from a local delivery place. Earplugs at the ready!

As if a day at The Vegan Society wasn’t enough for her vocal chords, Alex is also a member of a local choir. Living in Aberdeen for most of her childhood, Alex picked up a decidedly American accent. Alex protests it’s because many people from the USA live there for the thriving oil industry, but the jury’s still out on that one.

WHY VEGAN?   “I never really understood the reasons why people went vegan until I read a Vegan Society leaflet when I was 17. I knew then that it was something that I had to do. I remember thinking to myself, ‘I can’t not be vegan.’ And a few days later, after preparing my mum and my fridge, I was.” - Alex

Spencer Harris

Sales and Membership Co-ordinator

“Do you want the good news or the even better news?”

Spencer uses all of his 6’ 2” inches in height to reach your favourite books down from the top shelves, for sale from our online bookshop. His responsibilities include promoting membership and selling awesome vegan things, but he doesn’t stop there. Spencer is also our resident painter and decorator, shelf-putter-upper, builder, plumber, and carpenter. Trust us, he can work vegan magic with that tool box! 

Many of us here would love to have Spencer live at Donald Watson House around-the-clock. Seeing as though evenings and weekends are kind of the ‘done’ thing in modern day England, Spencer plans his escape around football, travelling to faraway places, and photography. He is also a devoted husband and co-parent to a one-eyed cat called Sebastian.

WHY VEGAN?   “Becoming vegan was predominantly for health reasons due to my father's ill health in 2011. It was only after embracing veganism that I was able to make the connection with the other elements and see how this new lifestyle benefited other aspects of my life.” - Spencer

Alix Meek

Business Development Assistant

“Sounds great!”

Known to colleagues as Alix with an “i” (not to be confused with Alex with an “e”). In her own words, “over-the-moon” to work for The Vegan Society, Alix brings just as much enthusiasm to the role as she does expertise. As Business Development Assistant, her main duties are jumping up and down with joy every time a new company registers a product with the Vegan Trademark, and nursing her foot better after jumping too vigorously.

Alix’s favourite thing to drink in the whole world is water, but she knows that doesn’t do much for the fun vegan image. So sometimes she drinks it with a curly straw. Easy to talk to and fun to be around, Alix will make you feel comfortable in any situation. Except in situations where someone needs to swim in cold water or ride a bike. She doesn’t do those things. Most subjects interest Alix, but she’s not one to pass up a little bit of 18th century social history.

WHY VEGAN?   “I live next to a slaughter house. The smell is terrible. Sometimes, when the house is quiet, I can hear the cows mooing from trucks that are parked waiting. I always have the radio on at home. Part of me wants to scream, or hurl myself in front of the trucks. Luckily, a bigger part of me is extremely happy to go out to work for The Vegan Society each day – an organisation that makes a positive difference. It’s a far more effective fight than screaming at truck drivers. I’ve been vegan for about a year and a half, and have loved every minute of it. I was spurred on by a friend of mine, who is a member of The Vegan Society. She really helped me to get going, and I’m ever so grateful that she did!” - Alix

Allan Oakes

Administration and Finance Officer

“Just throw it in and blend it up – it’s the easiest way to get your five-a-day!”

Morning is Allan’s favourite time of day, which is lucky, because his in-tray is usually full shortly after 10am. Powered through the morning by his famous green smoothies, Allan’s workload covers everything from processing direct debits and donations to providing general office support to the team. Even with administrative tasks coming from all directions, Allan handles our finances with dexterity and pleasure (although woe betide anyone who forgets to add a nominal code to that invoice). Now all he needs to do is figure out how to make a healthy smoothie taste like a bakewell tart, and he’ll be sorted for life.

When he’s not making everyone’s lives easier around the office, Allan enjoys listening to music, going to live gigs, and playing the drums in his band. In fact, drumming is Allan’s favourite form of exercise (it’s around 400 calories an hour, in case you were wondering. And much more fun than mowing the lawn).

WHY VEGAN?   “Seeing the price of a cheeseburger was what did it. This was at Glastonbury festival ages ago. I remember thinking, ‘all that suffering... and this is what I get?’ In that moment, I decided to go vegetarian. My decision to go vegan was just as simple. I don’t need animal products to live a healthy, happy life. I’ve been vegan for eight years and if I can do it, anyone can, because I’m the laziest person ever. At The Vegan Society, our kitchen is a place to experiment, and I’ll often get into long conversations about nutrition and recipes with other members of staff – it’s great!” - Allan

Jessica Payne

Supporter Services and Event Co-ordinator

“Adding coconut to anything makes it better!”

Don’t let her youthful appearance fool you. Jess isn’t, in fact, a teenager. Her friendly grown-up voice is probably the first one you’ll hear if you call the office, and her inbox is also the mystery place where all of The Vegan Society’s info[at]vegansociety[dot]com emails go. Handling all general enquiries is a big undertaking. Together with co-ordinating our events programme and seeing to it that our supporters feel supported, Jess has been known to take up to two hours to finish a drink. She likes to get as much as humanly possible done between sips (unless it’s a green smoothie, of course, in which case it’s gone within seconds). 

On a scale from 1 to 10, Jess rates as an 11 for positivity, 12 for determination, and 15 for coolness. Actually – make that 16, because we recently discovered that she throws some pretty good dance moves in the kitchen when she thought nobody was watching. Jess also lists ‘poi’ as one of her hobbies, but we’re gonna have to Google that one.

WHY VEGAN?  “I went vegan about three years ago (three days before my birthday, much to my mother’s dismay – although it turns out Googling “best vegan chocolate cake ever” is really helpful). At university, a few people in the space of a week mistook me for a vegetarian as I was known for generally preferring the company of animals to people. It got me thinking about it, I started reading about reasons to go vegetarian which led me to read about veganism and that was it. Being vegan means everything to me. I’ve always loved and respected animals and living a life in line with my ethical beliefs is really liberating.”

Ali Ryland

Web and Digital Communications Officer

“Where’s the nearest chip shop?”

Ali doesn’t hail just from one place, having loved to travel around from a young age. While at university, Ali may have broken the record for number of hours spent on a Megabus, travelling between Scotland, Manchester and London, as well as venturing overseas – all within the coach’s sticky confines.

At university, while not reading or traversing Britain in search of vegan junk food, Ali campaigned for various animal rights organisations and social justice movements. A brief stint in the music business saw Ali once again return to work for an ethical organisation; The Vegan Society.

Ali's new role includes managing and engineering website content and development, while using other platforms geared towards getting the vegan message out there. A fan of hiking and mountaineering, Ali can be found enjoying the view at peaks around Europe.

WHY VEGAN?   “I went from veggie to vegan shortly after starting university, when I could no longer remain ignorant about the truths surrounding the dairy and egg industries. I’ve always been against animal exploitation, so it was time to align my actions with my philosophy.” - Ali

Abigail Stevens

Business Development Assistant

"I made cookies!"

Abigail hails from the land of summer, bringing sunshine into all of our lives. Always eager to give a helping hand, Abigail loves nothing more than speaking to Vegan Trademark holders in her role as Business Development Assistant. 

Often referred to as ‘the office air freshener’, you will never find Abigail without at least 10 LUSH products. Her favourite thing about working at The Vegan Society is being able to spend her time with other compassionate people and playing an active role in making veganism more accessible. Fresh out of university, Abigail doesn’t want to stop learning new skills and is always keen to help with the events that we attend. 

Being so focused on conquering any challenges that get in the way of registering new products with the Vegan Trademark is tiring work, so Abigail likes to unwind by baking her colleagues some tasty treats, befriending the neighbourhood cats and writing articles about veganism.

WHY VEGAN?   “I’m vegan for the animals, for the environment and for myself. I had been vegetarian for four years and took the final step to veganism in January 2013 while at university. To me, being vegan means living my life at peace with my ethics, believing that no non-human animal should have to suffer for my lifestyle.” - Abigail

Grace Shuck

Business Development Officer

"What a lovely idea!"

Multiple choice: if you choose an answer to this question at random, what is the chance you will be correct? (a) 25% (b) 50% (c) 60% (d) 25% While you ponder that one, Grace will get to work registering more products with our Trademark logo, each of which she gives the same care and attention as she did her very first. Grace looks after our lovely Trademark clients and pretty much anything else wherever helping to propel veganism into the mainstream is concerned. Even when things don’t go as planned, Grace is always happy to go out of her way to help, fuelled by plenty of tea and the odd cherry bakewell.

Time spent outdoors pips studying psychology, learning about French language and culture, and practising yoga to the post, but it’s a close one. For an uplifting experience living in a non-vegan world, Grace highly recommends searching for vegan threads in the things you already enjoy. For Grace, that could be anything from discovering a favourite musician or actor is vegan to reading fiction with a vegan theme.

WHY VEGAN?  “I was brought up vegetarian and, for as long as I can remember, agreed with the principle that animals are not ours to exploit, but it took researching animal rights for a school project to bring home the extent to which I was still being complicit in the exploitation of and infliction of suffering on animals. This, combined with the information I received on how to live healthily on a vegan diet, gave me the push I needed to become vegan.  Evidence on the benefits veganism can have on people’s health and the environment helped reinforce my decision.” - Grace